Archeological Traces of Sixth Century Earthquakes in İstanbul Küçükçekmece Lake Basin (Bathonea) Excavations

Barış Ş., Aydıngün Ş., Kaya H., Gazioğlu C.

International Journal of Environment and Geoinformatics, vol.8, no.3, pp.386-396, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Located 20 km west of the Bosporus, the Bathonea ancient port settlement on the Avcılar / Firuzköy Peninsula northwest of Küçükçekmece Lagoon Lake has been the subject of archeological excavations with a multidisciplinary team since 2010. Excavations determined two separate structures with intense and destructive damage and studies were performed about whether or not this damage was caused by destructive earthquakes in the region. A church structure with an apse had most pronounced intense damage and skeletons belonging to two hugging individuals were identified under the stones of a collapsed dome. Additionally, coins dated to 550 and other archeological materials reveal the destructive earthquake occurred after 550 in the period of the Emperor Justinian (527-565). If it had occurred during the reign of a different emperor, the coins would have been out of circulation. Strong destructive traces were identified in other structures spread over a large area in the excavation site, apart from the apse structure. In the north of the peninsula nearly 600 m from the church structure, visible offsets and collapsed walls were revealed in the walls of a great water cistern. Deformation offsets and fractures observed in this cistern and in tunnels bringing water to the cistern provide evidence of earthquakes in the 6th century. After the structure became unusable, bricks and stones used for construction of other structures in the 7-8th centuries provide important data to date the earthquake. Excavations supporting geophysical studies continue. The results from the excavation confirm some historical earthquakes occurring in Istanbul and mentioned by ancient and medieval writers with archeological evidence for the first time.

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